Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reflections of Summer

Shaver Lake, CA 2011 camping trip
Oh where, oh where did our summer break go?!  I purposely did not sign up my kids for summer activities (with the exception of a two week swim class).  I wanted the summer to feel relaxed not rushed with time commitments.  I think we accomplished that.  Our summer break had lots of fun in the water, many more hiking trail nature studies than usual, one camping trip, relaxed summer readings, even relaxed math work, lots of playtime in our yard by ourselves and with many friends over, many out of the blue gatherings with family, lots of walks around our neighborhood, several park days, and just quiet time to reflect (mom anyway). 

getting ready for hike near Mono Hot Springs
We've always started school sometime towards the end of August.  My goal was to start mid month this year, but I'm really contemplating giving the kids one more week before starting a new school year.  I realized that even though our summer was relaxed my kids did a lot of unschooled type work.  We covered some astronomy and seed studies.  We learned about many flowers and insects.  The kids picked up their watercoloring and nature journaling techniques.  My little ones kept working on letter recognition and numbers.  My now first grader kept working on his reading skills, with I Spy Books mind you. 

Kids splashing on their camping trip
I got a chance to really focus on my Charlotte Mason readings and learning by talking to some good friends about methods and philosophy.  Now, I have to admit, I only got as far as Volume 1 (still reading through part V).   There are so many wonderful ideas to process in her writing that it is taking me longer to get through her original works.  I'm not discouraged at all.  My goal is still to read them, but it might mean a longer time frame than I originally thought.  I'm also reading Karen Rackliff's Wild Days Creating Discovery Journals, can you believe I had missed reading that one.  How did that happen ? I also had a chance to watch the Simply Charlotte Mason One Day Seminar including Laying Down the Rails and we are scheduled to watch The Books & Things seminar in a few weeks with some wonderful ladies.  Let me throw in that I started watching Eve Anderson's Teacher Training Tools dvds too.

near campground
I have to say that I am glad that I've been able to savor this first volume.  The information I have found in it has been invaluable to how I plan on approaching the early years with my boys.  As a result we have spent a lot of time outdoors just enjoying and observing. I have also started focusing my attention on having more manipulatives around the house for them.  My plan for math and beginning reading has also changed.  I don't think I really understood before how Charlotte Mason approached these years or maybe I didn't understand the reasoning.  My goal for them will be to introduce some very important habits and skills, rather than loading them with school subjects and expect any kind of mastery.

San Joaquin Valley Bridge
I hope to have some posts about our plans for the new school year soon. I loved getting ready for them.  For the last year or so I've enjoyed reading Jen's very thorough and detailed posts about planning and just CM in general over at her blog; Wildflowers and Marbles.  She is a wealth of knowledge and information.  I also enjoyed using the Simply Charlotte Mason Planning Your CM Education, an extremely helpful tool. 

I've enjoyed sharing our summer break with you.  Now,  I'm off to finish loose ends and get ready for the new school year.


Shirley Ann said...

Lovely post! Beautiful pictures! I loved reading about your CM reading and learning. You have inspired me to pick up my volumes' again. Thank you
Shirley Ann

Grace'n'Chaos said...

You're too kind Shirley Ann. I've read so much about CM but acutally reading her works has been wonderful.